The day before Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were released, I had a bit of a lapse in my spoiler-avoidance. I took a good, long look at the full map of Hyrule. Though it was completely void of any marks or notes, I did see some interesting buildings and landscapes that I decided that I would prioritize in my travels. One of those places was an island off to the southeast of the mainland, quite a ways out into the ocean.
During the hours of gameplay leading up to me reaching that island, I quickly learned that Link could not swim very far before running out of stamina and being warped back to the last solid ground that he’d stood on. Much, much later, I discovered that rafts were common around larger bodies of water, and many more hours after that, I found that I could use a korok leaf to generate wind to sail those rafts around. And thus, I was finally able to access Eventide Island.
Little did I know, it would become my greatest nightmare.
I had already played for many hours, and throughout my travels I had accumulated plenty of helpful items and gear. But never did I expect what happened as I set foot onto the beach of Eventide. A disembodied voice came out of nowhere, and issued a challenge to clear the trials of the island; the catch being that all of my things would be taken away and I was left with only Link’s innate abilities and whatever I could forage from the island.
There are five main areas on Eventide: the beach, the forest, a clearing, a hill, and a mountain. Much like on the hit television program of 2004, LOST, the beach was the safest place to be. There was a small group of bokoblins around a fire, but otherwise there were no threats. There was also nothing helpful there. So I went into the forest as was immediately killed by an octorok that had disguised itself as a treasure chest. Wonderful.
As I soon discovered, my last save point was also the day before a Blood Moon. In BotW, on the night of a Blood Moon, every enemy that you’ve killed will respawn. So basically, if I killed anything on that first day, it would almost immediately come back to life. This seemed like a problem at first, as resources are very limited on Eventide Island. But I quickly learned that it was in my best interest to kill any bow-wielding bokoblins before the Blood Moon, as I would be able to snatch a second bundle of arrows from them after they respawned, and arrows are incredibly helpful in this trial.
The goal is to find three glowing orange orbs and place them on the three pedestals dotting the island. The first orb is on a bokoblin lookout post, guarded by three bokoblins. It seems easy enough to grab, but one of the bokos carries a pretty strong bow, meaning that one hit will generally kill your naked Link. This happened many times. Eventually I learned the best way to storm the post and secure the orb, but on one such occasion, I decided to smash a stray barrel to see what goodies it held. The “goodies” turned out to be a yellow chuchu, which immediately killed me as smashing the barrel counted as hitting it, triggering a lethal discharge of electricity. Fun.
Another issue I faced after every death was the thunderstorm that was set about two in-game hours after my save. Thuderstorms are the worst. Errant lightning strikes will kill you immediately if you’re unlucky enough to be hit, and if not, they’ll set anything flammable ablaze in a generous radius. Lord help you if any explosive barrels are nearby. What makes them even worse is that if you have any metal gear equipped, lightning will be attracted to you, and you are guaranteed to be hit if you don’t think to unequip those items ASAP. Of course, the lightning storm and Blood Moon could both have been avoided if I’d just waited around offshore for the night to pass and then made a new save. But I’m far too stubborn and impatient for that.
Oh, and lighting can also be drawn to metal chests. Which can really suck, if you get my drift.
Getting the orb to its pedestal is a much harder job. See, it’s just off the beach on a little outcropping of rock. About twice as far as Link can throw an object, and he can’t haul the orb out of the water while on the rocks. So what’s a boy to do? My first thought was to use Stasis to freeze the orb and then launch it onto the island with a few good whacks. But it wouldn’t get enough vertical height no matter how many times I hit it. There are octoroks floating all around the island, so I killed a couple and gathered up some octo balloons, hoping to airlift the orb over to the pedestal. I tried over and over with half a dozen balloons, but it just wouldn’t float high enough to land on the pedestal. Finally, I discovered a raft over on the far side of the beach. From there it was as easy as chopping down a tree for a korok leaf, and then floating the raft over to use as a bridge from the island to the pedestal. One down, two to go!
I should mention that you’re not allowed to save at all during this trial. You have to get all three orbs home without dying or leaving the island, or else you have to start all over again. It’s a brutal little roguelike of an island.
The second orb is located on a plateau near the top of the mountain. This one is guarded by a much bigger bokoblin encampment, with two lookouts, a couple blue bokoblins, and and incredibly dangerous blue moblin. I died at the hands of that stupid moblin many times before I was finally able to trick him into standing next to an explosive barrel. Blew that jerk to smithereens, and it felt so good. Luckily, the pedestal for this one is right there, so it’s a very easy task to drive it home once you’ve cleared out all the surrounding monsters.
The final orb, easily the most difficult one to procure, is tied around the neck of a sleeping blue Hinox. If you aren’t familiar with the Hinox, it is a massive creature, easily four times as tall as Link, with a single, bulbous eye and an incredibly deadly butt-stomp. Fighting one of these guys even while fully decked out is a risky proposition. Fighting one while naked and with nothing but branches and skeleton arms as weapons is suicide.
The hill nearby is where the final pedestal sits, and like pretty much everywhere else on the island, it’s got a bokoblin camp on top. They’re the least of your troubles, though, as it is also crawling with huge yellow chuchus that will me more than happy to shock you to death. Like the bokoblin post in the clearing, this one also has an inconspicuous barrel that houses a yellow chuchu. And just like that other barrel, I was also killed by breaking this one open and receiving a surprise thousand-volt shock.
Over a few attempts, I learned that the best way to deal with the hilltop creatures was to hide on the side of the peak and lob bombs over. Bombs don’t deal a lot of damage to most enemies, but they’ll kill a red bokoblin outright and two or three will pop a big chuchu. With a single blue bokoblin left to fight, taking the hilltop was easy enough. It was then just a matter of dealing with the Hinox. I tried rolling boulders at him. I tried lobbing explosive barrels at him. I stupidly tried to fight him directly a few times. All ended in death, because nothing would hurt him very much.
And then it hit me. The big idiot was a very sound sleeper, and it took some serious racket to rouse him. So I killed all the monsters on the hilltop and tried something crazy. I took a leap of faith and pulled out the paraglider, adjusting my flight so that I would land gingerly on the monster’s massive gut. He did not wake up. I plucked the orb (and a few choice weapons) from his necklace and chucked it to safety. Only when I jumped down did he finally arise and start chasing me around. Sad as it is to say, I did not survive on my first attempt. Or the second. Only the third time did I finally decide to play it safe and just dive into the ocean until he gave up and went back to sleep.
From that point, I was free to take the plundered orb and place it on its pedestal, thereby finally exposing the hidden shrine at the peak of the mountain. Inside I was presented with a treasure chest and no further trials. I was able to simply walk up to the monk and claim my spirit orb. Hurrah! Victory!
In case I didn’t drive the point home well enough earlier, this all has to be done in a single run. You cannot be killed, or you have to start from scratch. There’s no saving, no checkpoints, no nothing. It took me countless deaths and roughly four hours to finally best Eventide Island. A lot of that can be chalked up to general incompetence, and the rest from me being a little too impulsive, often rushing into a situation armed with nothing but a pair of boxers and a woodcutter’s axe.
One tiny little detail about the island that I loved might even go unnoticed to some. On the world map, every major location has a name, and landscape features like mountains, lakes, and beaches will typically be named for characters or places from other Zelda games. Eventide has two such points of interest on the map: Koholit Rock and Toronbo Beach. For those not in the know, those are references to Link’s Awakening, which is my sentimental favourite Zelda game. And the island’s challenge even sort of mimics that game’s flow by having you find a number of mystical doodads to open the final destination on the island’s central peak. Love it. So much.
In the end, for all my frustrations, I absolutely loved this particular challenge. It is easily one of the most outstanding segments in a game absolutely packed to the brim with amazing moments and vistas and challenges. I think it probably speaks for itself in this gigantic piece that I’ve written about it.